Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Feb 2007 18:58 UTC, submitted by WillM
Microsoft Microsoft is accusing rival IBM of orchestrating a campaign to block efforts to standardize Office document formats. In an open letter released Wednesday, Microsoft executives contend that IBM is trying to influence the standards process to limit choice. It also said that IBM is encouraging governments to mandate a document format that IBM favors. Pot, kettle, something.
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Planet Microsoft
by h3rman on Wed 14th Feb 2007 20:03 UTC
h3rman
Member since:
2006-08-09

The IBM driven effort to force ODF on users through public procurement mandates is a further attempt to restrict choice. (...) This campaign to limit choice and force their single standard on consumers should be resisted.

Yes! It is true! Microsoft does exist in another universe!

Okay then, let's giv'em the benefit of the doubt.
I'll expect Microsoft to have engaged in a worldwide campaign from tomorrow when I wake up, to have consumers choose their operating system when they buy a pc or laptop. They'll no longer allow their systems to be sold in places where at least some other systems are not available.
And of course they will change IE to make it harder for web designers to produce websites that look crap or don't work at all (partly) with other browsers.
And of course they will open up the avi formats.
And of course they will open up NTFS.
And of course (...).

Great times we live in!

Reply Score: 5

Flat out hypocrisy
by Shaman on Wed 14th Feb 2007 20:04 UTC
Shaman
Member since:
2005-11-15

This company will take any tactic, no matter how disengenuous or distasteful, to smear its competitors and move forward its business agenda.

It's so transparent an argument here. The truth is, the argument is simply "IBM has a standardized, cross-platform file format for office suite products that we refuse to be compatible with, and by not forcing customers to use our office suite, IBM is limiting customer choice!"

You have to admire the courage it takes to stare the world right in the eye and tell them that white is really black with shades of grey.

Edited 2007-02-14 20:05

Reply Score: 5

Reasons why people should reject OpenXML
by ralph on Wed 14th Feb 2007 20:06 UTC
ralph
Member since:
2005-07-10

"2.15.3.6 autoSpaceLikeWord95 (Emulate Word 95 Full-Width Character Spacing)

This element specifies that applications shall emulate the behavior of a previously existing word processing application (Microsoft Word 95) when determining the spacing between full-width East Asian characters in a document's content.

[Guidance: To faithfully replicate this behavior, applications must imitate the behavior of that application, which involves many possible behaviors and cannot be faithfully placed into narrative for this Office Open XML Standard. If applications wish to match this behavior, they must utilize and duplicate the output of those applications. It is recommended that applications not intentionally replicate this behavior as it was deprecated due to issues with its output, and is maintained only for compatibility with existing documents from that application. end guidance]"
.....
"2.15.3.26 footnoteLayoutLikeWW8 (Emulate Word 6.x/95/97 Footnote Placement)

This element specifies that applications shall emulate the behavior of a previously existing word processing application (Microsoft Word 6.x/95/97) when determining the placement of the contents of footnotes relative to the page on which the footnote reference occurs. This emulation typically involves some and/or all of the footnote being inappropriately placed on the page following the footnote reference.

[Guidance: To faithfully replicate this behavior, applications must imitate the behavior of that application, which involves many possible behaviors and cannot be faithfully placed into narrative for this Office Open XML Standard. If applications wish to match this behavior, they must utilize and duplicate the output of those applications. It is recommended that applications not intentionally replicate this behavior as it was deprecated due to issues with its output, and is maintained only for compatibility with existing documents from that application. end guidance]"

Examples from here:
http://www.robweir.com/blog/2006/01/how-to-hire-guillaume-portes.ht...

This isn't a standard, this is a sad joke!

Edited 2007-02-14 20:07

Reply Score: 5

h3rman
Member since:
2006-08-09

On December 7th, Ecma approved the adoption of Open XML as an international open standard. The vote was nearly unanimous; of the 21 members, IBM’s was the sole dissenting vote. IBM again was the lone dissenter when Ecma also agreed to submit Open XML as a standard for ratification by ISO/IEC JTC1. Some governments had encouraged Ecma to seek this additional recognition to establish choice among ISO/IEC JTC1 standards, including Open Document Format (ODF).
[emphasis added]

Translation: sadly, of all those involved, only IBM had the courage to resist an MS "standard" that needs 6000 pages of "specifications".

Reply Score: 5

kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

Translation: sadly, of all those involved, only IBM had the courage to resist an MS "standard" that needs 6000 pages of "specifications".

Sugar buns; you do realise that standardisation of a format doesn't automatically make it something that yuou *MUST* support.

Let ECMA and ISO standardise the format, and leave it up to the marketplace as to whether others adopt it as a format in their own products.

Stop playing nanna state; I don't like it when government do it and I certaintity can't stand snooty little tossers such as yourself coming in stating that everything possible should be done to limit the ability by me to possibly have more choice than ODF in the marketplace.

Reply Score: 0

CowMan Member since:
2006-09-26

Nah b'y.. just like the courts, you've got to toss the frivilous stuff.

Reply Score: 1

gustl Member since:
2006-01-19

Since Microsoft is the ONLY vendor who can make a full implementation of the MS OXML format, the only true choice one has who bets on MS OXML for his future documents is - MS Office.

That is a fact, you just have to look at what is missing (specifications for WMF and EMF), and what is too much (200 ArtBorders). Additionally MS OXML is NOT vendor- neutraly extendible (you cannot save a single ArtBorder which is outside of Microsofts already defined ones in MS OXML), but ODF is extendable by everybody (just add another namespace to it).

So Microsoft COULD have chosen to use ODF for every feature that ODF can handle (which would be most features), and create new "microsoft:xxx" tags for features which are not reflected by ODF. That would have left us with one standardized format for all office applications, which is extendable and future-proof.

But no, Microsoft had to create a format of its own, and tries to stuff that one down the throats of everybody. As the real differences between the MS OXML format and ODF are vendor neutrality and extensibility (both of which ODF has and MS OXML has not), I assume MS deliberately chose that path to maintain their vendor-lockIn on office documents a little longer.

I would not like to see a format that favors one company over another like MS OXML does, to get the praise of any standards consortium.

I know ODF has issues, but none of these issues are showstoppers because they can be debugged as ODF grows towards the future.
MS OXML has issues which cannot be debugged, like this stupid tie-in to Windows via the vector graphics formats WMF and EMF.

Reply Score: 5

RE: MS OfficeXML, ODF and choice.
by kaiwai on Fri 16th Feb 2007 09:54 UTC in reply to "MS OfficeXML, ODF and choice."
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

1) If the issue is that the format is too complex and causes too many problems in regards to re-implementation of it, then how come Novell is implementing it quite nicely already?

2) I don't like the idea of 'vendor extensible neutral' - it simply allows those to 'embrace and extend' to incompatible, just like Microsoft did to Java.

Give the specification, implement the specification, and if you want to improve on it, work with Microsoft or what have you to bring about improvements that all agree on...just like ODF! how bloody terribly shocking!

3) WMF and EMF are formats outside the specification; all one has to do is remember to use JPEG and GIF files; not a difficult task - although one would ask, why doesn't drop WMF in favour of an open vector format like SVG - but hey, thats Microsoft, its not meant to make sense.

4) I've pointed out my worries about the neutrality of its development; I like the idea of OOXML, I like the technology behind it, but my biggest worry is Microsofts America like complex of "this is the way we do it, like it or lump it" - if Microsoft want to get more credibility, minimum they need to setup a "Microsoft technology workshop", invite players along and work with them to on making Microsoft technologies available on a friendly licence.

What do I mean by a 'friendly licence' is something like; allow opensource and free or small developers free access to the specifications and for larger companies like Adobe, pay royalties on technologies used. It would be a win for all, win for customers, win for small developers.

Reply Score: 2

Of course!
by Buck on Wed 14th Feb 2007 20:20 UTC
Buck
Member since:
2005-06-29

Of course it's about LIMITING choice and innovation! We need to have only ONE office standard goddamit, and Microsoft must follow it.
Microsoft truly wants to stifle our communication. This is insane.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Of course!
by systyrant on Wed 14th Feb 2007 21:00 UTC in reply to "Of course!"
systyrant Member since:
2007-01-18

Amen brother.

Reply Score: 2

Childish...
by JamesTRexx on Wed 14th Feb 2007 20:22 UTC
JamesTRexx
Member since:
2005-11-06

Sorry, but the only thing that came to mind when I read it was;
Awww... Poor widdle Microsoft... Is big bad IBM being a big mean bully..? *ruffles Microsoft's hair*

Reply Score: 5

RE: Childish...
by stestagg on Wed 14th Feb 2007 20:51 UTC in reply to "Childish..."
stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

All well and good, until Microsoft turn round and bites your hand off. ;)

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Childish...
by butters on Thu 15th Feb 2007 03:49 UTC in reply to "RE: Childish..."
butters Member since:
2005-07-08

You don't bite the hand that feeds you. Do you realize how many Windows/Office licenses IBM buys? How many server system they ship with Windows? How many applications they provide for the Windows platform?

And more importantly, if Microsoft really pissed off IBM something bad, they have the technology, the resources, and the will to completely abolish Microsoft product support internally, starting tomorrow. I'm an IBMer, and I run the IBM Open Client for e-Business on my Thinkpad. It's based on your choice of RHEL or SLED (I choose the latter), and it's fully supported by the internal IT help desk system. Even though I normally prefer Gentoo, I really like it. It does everything I need it to do with less fuss than the Windows Client for e-Business.

It supports both the legacy MS Office and ODF formats for documents, but not OpenXML. But then again, nobody supports OpenXML but Microsoft.

Reply Score: 5

What the...?
by twenex on Wed 14th Feb 2007 20:25 UTC
twenex
Member since:
2006-04-21

A Jibe at Apple and now at IBM?

Microsoft's PR department has obviously gone Out to Lunch. Meanwhile, the people minding the store are teaching each other how to open their mouths and stick both legs in.

Reply Score: 5

open standards ?
by raver31 on Wed 14th Feb 2007 20:29 UTC
raver31
Member since:
2005-07-06

open and microsoft should not be in the same room, never mind the same article.

governments around the world should stay well away from all microsoft protocols and formats if it is to have access to its documents in the future.

xml ? dont make me laugh.

Reply Score: 5

RE: open standards ?
by twenex on Wed 14th Feb 2007 20:55 UTC in reply to "open standards ?"
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

open and microsoft should not be in the same room, never mind the same article.

Yes, they should!: The problem is they never are!

Reply Score: 5

Where's the spec?
by reldruh on Wed 14th Feb 2007 20:39 UTC
reldruh
Member since:
2007-02-05

I read this article and then went looking for the actual ooxml spec. I don't know if it's not available because it's going through a certification process (doesn't seem to make much sense) or for some other reason but I spent a good 15 minutes trying to find it and came up with nothing. The odf spec on the other hand was a google search and 2 clicks away (and downloadable in three formats). For a company that claims it's trying to be open and being blocked by IBM, that's a pretty huge ommision. Not having the actual spec available? The proof is in the pudding on this one. Even with all of Microsofts sordid history and the contradictions I'm assuming are in the spec (I can't find it so I don't know for sure) if you're claiming to be open, no matter who you are, you'd better be willing to let people see what you're claiming is open.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Where's the spec?
by stestagg on Wed 14th Feb 2007 20:59 UTC in reply to "Where's the spec?"
stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

Google is your friend. search for open office xml specification. click first result

(p.s. Protip, if a search term doesn't yield good results, try obvious permutations)

Reply Score: 5

RE: Where's the spec?
by corsaire on Wed 14th Feb 2007 21:22 UTC in reply to "Where's the spec?"
corsaire Member since:
2006-05-15
RE: Where's the spec?
by drewunwired on Wed 14th Feb 2007 23:48 UTC in reply to "Where's the spec?"
drewunwired Member since:
2005-07-06

"The odf spec on the other hand was a google search and 2 clicks away (and downloadable in three formats)."

Is one of them .docx? ;)

Reply Score: 0

fortune, bold, something.
by Beta on Wed 14th Feb 2007 20:51 UTC
Beta
Member since:
2005-07-06

"mandate a document format that IBM favors"

IBM favours our freedom(s) with truly open formats, ones that are implemented in free(libre+gratis) applications aswell as IBMs and Sun's commercial applications.

That's all I have to say.

Edited 2007-02-14 20:51

Reply Score: 5

RE: fortune, bold, something.
by tomcat on Thu 15th Feb 2007 06:45 UTC in reply to "fortune, bold, something."
tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

IBM favours our freedom(s) with truly open formats, ones that are implemented in free(libre+gratis) applications aswell as IBMs and Sun's commercial applications.

Do you actually believe your own bullshit? IBM doesn't care about your freedoms. IBM cares about positioning itself so that it can sell interop services targeted at standards that its competitors don't control. It has nothing to do with freedom.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: fortune, bold, something.
by tpaws on Thu 15th Feb 2007 14:51 UTC in reply to "RE: fortune, bold, something."
tpaws Member since:
2006-06-02

Do you actually believe your own bullshit?

Do you believe yours? IBM caresin this case because it is good business. It is refered to as listening to their customers and analyzing trends.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: fortune, bold, something.
by tomcat on Fri 16th Feb 2007 21:20 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: fortune, bold, something."
tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

Do you believe yours? IBM caresin this case because it is good business. It is refered to as listening to their customers and analyzing trends.

Again, it has nothing to do with YOUR FREEDOM! It has everything to do with IBM's bottom line. If the situation were different, you can be certain that IBM would come down on the side of whatever produces profit, not your freedom.

Reply Score: 1

Big Brother attacking MS again?
by ronaldst on Wed 14th Feb 2007 21:02 UTC
ronaldst
Member since:
2005-06-29

Who knew! IBM always reminds me of a politician.

I wonder why didn't IBM stop C# from becoming a world standard. Why now?

"IBM is fundamentally on the wrong side of the industry"
It's been like that for a long time now (30+ years). AIM alliance, MCA, PowerPC, ThinkPad, Java, OS/2, etc...

Reply Score: 1

RE: Big Brother attacking MS again?
by twenex on Wed 14th Feb 2007 21:58 UTC in reply to "Big Brother attacking MS again?"
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

"IBM is fundamentally on the wrong side of the industry"
It's been like that for a long time now (30+ years). AIM alliance, MCA, PowerPC, ThinkPad, Java, OS/2, etc...


You obviously haven't heard. Then there was this thing called Linux.

Addendum: Where exactly do ThinkPads fit in your little diatroll?

Edited 2007-02-14 22:00

Reply Score: 5

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

"""
Where exactly do ThinkPads fit in your little diatroll?
"""

Or Java?

It's been hugely successful for corporate infrastructure apps.

And PPC for that matter. You may not see much PPC on the desktop, but in game consoles and such PPC has been quite successful

It's hard to imagine an OSNews reader being so uninformed as ronaldst seems to be.

Edited 2007-02-14 22:44

Reply Score: 5

twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

It's hard to imagine an OSNews reader being so uninformed as ronaldst seems to be.

Indeed. *str*t*rf*r?

Reply Score: 2

stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

Or even a***o*u**e*?

Reply Score: 2

twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

Even that!

Reply Score: 2

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

"""
Or even a***o*u**e*?
"""

Hmmm. Should I spin or solve the puzzle? ;-)

Actually, I am always hesitant to apply that label. It makes us appear paranoid, and there are so many people who are just honestly misguided.

Sometimes they will listen to reason. And sometimes not.

I doubt MS has to pay very many people to deliver their "message". Why pay when there are so many who are so easily mislead that they will do it for free?

Edited 2007-02-14 23:13

Reply Score: 5

stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

I crack myself up sometimes.

Reply Score: 1

Phloptical Member since:
2006-10-10

You forgot Lotus Notes....

Reply Score: 1

So...
by systyrant on Wed 14th Feb 2007 21:08 UTC
systyrant
Member since:
2007-01-18

Microsoft is planning on relinquishing all control of OOXML to some third organization that makes it possible for all people to contribute to the future of OOXML? No.

Of course the whole idea that Microsoft works toward a truly free form of sharing document is absurd at the moment. It doesn't fit with their business model or methodologies. If you aren't locked into their document format then you aren't locked into their product.

Heaven forbid that WordPerfect could someday easily interchange document with Word. Or even worse that OpenOffice could.

Reply Score: 3

RE: So...
by kaiwai on Thu 15th Feb 2007 03:27 UTC in reply to "So..."
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

Why the hell would Microsoft be scared of OpenOffice/Wordperfect/Smartsuite?

IBM has given up on Smartsuite, Wordperfect is limping along being pushed with minimal investment by a company who seems to have gone down the cheap-shareware, bargin basement software market, and the remaining one is OpenOffice.org which is a slow and bloated piece of crap which lacks the features I want in an Office suite.

Heck, that doesn't even start to cover the share ugliness of using OpenOffice.org when compared to Office 2007 Pro; the interface of OpenOffice.org is hideous, the documentation is attrocious in regards to how to get things working.

To say that you can easily replace Microsoft Office with OpenOffice.org by simply dropping it in, without any problems, quite frankly, either you delusional or the organisations you have worked for are so small the number of employees could all fit into a telephone booth with enough room for a BBQ, DJ mixing table and a disco ball.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: So...
by gustl on Thu 15th Feb 2007 13:12 UTC in reply to "RE: So..."
gustl Member since:
2006-01-19

MS is scared of OOo because it's price is zero, and it is the WYSIWYG Office which can handle the largest documents.

I agree with you, that the user interface could be clearer, but their user interface tries to mimic the MSOffice 200-2003 interface. No wonder it is as horrible.

Switching someone who can be satisfied with the features OOo offers over from MS Office is an easy task. 2 hours of upgrade training should do the trick, just focus on the rare differences (like styles).

I don't know which features of MS Office you use that are not available in OOo, but if you really need them, MS Office is obviously the right choice for you. You are one of those 10% of MS Office users who must stay with MS Office.

Nevertheless it would have been nice from MS to also use the ODF format to let people communicate office documents more easily.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: So...
by twenex on Thu 15th Feb 2007 15:01 UTC in reply to "RE: So..."
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

Heck, that doesn't even start to cover the share ugliness of using OpenOffice.org when compared to Office 2007 Pro;

Which has a completely new interface compared to both MS Office, and OpenOffice, which chose its interface specifically on the grounds that people were used to MS Office.

And why do the people who keep insisting that they need MS Office for the one or six gazillion functions that OO.org supposedly lacks never name those features?

Edited 2007-02-15 15:02

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: So...
by systyrant on Thu 15th Feb 2007 16:24 UTC in reply to "RE: So..."
systyrant Member since:
2007-01-18

You apparently read a lot more into what I wrote than was actually there.

"Why the hell would Microsoft be scared of OpenOffice/Wordperfect/Smartsuite?"

Because if we have a universal and open document format then people won't have to use Word. Not everybody who uses Microsoft Office really needs to, but because of the document format it makes it better for those who have to interchange documents.

"IBM has given up on Smartsuite, Wordperfect is limping along being pushed with minimal investment by a company who seems to have gone down the cheap-shareware, bargin basement software market, and the remaining one is OpenOffice.org which is a slow and bloated piece of crap which lacks the features I want in an Office suite."

I won't disagree a bit with most of what you said there. For you Microsoft Office maybe the best choice, but that doesn't make it the best choice for everybody. Some would rather use WordPerfect and some would rather use OpenOffice. If all office suites used a single unified open format then that choice wouldn't be so hard to make and would squarely put the focus back on making the best damn office suite available. And yes I still think Microsoft would rule the roost.

"Heck, that doesn't even start to cover the share ugliness of using OpenOffice.org when compared to Office 2007 Pro; the interface of OpenOffice.org is hideous, the documentation is attrocious in regards to how to get things working."

Your opinion. Not everybody likes the way the new Office 2007 looks. Some might think it's hideous.

"To say that you can easily replace Microsoft Office with OpenOffice.org by simply dropping it in, without any problems, quite frankly, either you delusional or the organisations you have worked for are so small the number of employees could all fit into a telephone booth with enough room for a BBQ, DJ mixing table and a disco ball."

I never said that. And you were either really frustrated by what I said or you suck as writing. Doesn't IE at least have spell checking?

Reply Score: 3

RE: So...
by Jezza on Thu 15th Feb 2007 06:57 UTC in reply to "So..."
Jezza Member since:
2005-10-13

I don't think it's about the open interchange of documents between software suites. I have always had the suspicion that the whole point of ooxml was that a document would be able to be made in OOo and opened in Word and would display correctly. Where there would be a fundamental binary incomaptability or something that meant that files made with Word would simply not show correctly on OOo, for example.

It is the only reason I can think that MS would do this.

Reply Score: 1

Is there a word?
by sbergman27 on Wed 14th Feb 2007 21:15 UTC
sbergman27
Member since:
2005-07-24

After looking over the letter, I tried to put my finger upon a word that would accurately describe my feelings about it.

Astonishment? No. This was pretty much expected, so I can't really even claim to be surprised.

Embarrassed for Microsoft? Perhaps it would be warranted. But it's hard to be embarrassed for an entity with the kind of gall that Microsoft has demonstrated.

Outraged? Nah. Outrage kind of requires "surprise" which I had already eliminated.

So I finally settled upon "nausea".

Edited 2007-02-14 21:16

Reply Score: 5

RE: Is there a word?
by JeffS on Wed 14th Feb 2007 21:20 UTC in reply to "Is there a word?"
JeffS Member since:
2005-07-12

Astonishment, embarrassment, outrage, and nausea.

Kind of sums up any sane person's reaction to MS actions.

Outstanding post.

Reply Score: 4

Who's being hypocritical here???
by Luis on Wed 14th Feb 2007 21:25 UTC
Luis
Member since:
2006-04-28

Good to see that everybody agrees in this one. I guess we've all found it funny (not to use other words) that after locking users during 10 years with their closed office formats, Microsoft has finally lost this battle and now they start to cry that IBM is preventing users to have a wider choice among office standards.

Unbelievable.

Reply Score: 3

In Deference to another Bill
by tpaws on Wed 14th Feb 2007 22:12 UTC
tpaws
Member since:
2006-06-02

"It depends on how you define (open)…"

http://politicalhumor.about.com/cs/quotethis/a/clintonquotes.htm

Reply Score: 1

I am at a loss
by milles21 on Wed 14th Feb 2007 22:34 UTC
milles21
Member since:
2006-11-08

I really at a loss with Microsoft and their so-called Open source initiatives, their proposed standards in not only file fomats, but browser standards.

One only needs to look at the features removed in office 2007 to see that they have no intention of open communication. This takes the case I really can't explain why they even took the time to respond.

My mother always said that "It is one thing to have everyone think you are a fool it is another to open your mouth and remove all doubt"

Reply Score: 2

RE: I am at a loss
by stestagg on Wed 14th Feb 2007 22:44 UTC in reply to "I am at a loss"
stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

I'm not disputing your points, I'm just interested in what the 'features removed in office 2007' actually are.

Stephen

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: I am at a loss
by milles21 on Wed 14th Feb 2007 23:22 UTC in reply to "RE: I am at a loss"
milles21 Member since:
2006-11-08
RE[3]: I am at a loss
by stestagg on Wed 14th Feb 2007 23:32 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: I am at a loss"
stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

Wow. I can see this as being a serious source of annoyance for some people.

Luckily I view email as a resource that is better displayed without Flash adverts, or corporate-branded-spyware-infested-crapware letters. But that's just my opinion. Oh, and when I did my last HTML Email work, the emails looked fine in Outlook 2007, mainly because I didn't put in lots of annoying gimmicks.

For those of you who think that I have a style issue, I fully applaud good, professional design on the internet. I just happen to think that Emails would only suffer from the proliferation of stylesheets.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: I am at a loss
by milles21 on Wed 14th Feb 2007 23:36 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: I am at a loss"
milles21 Member since:
2006-11-08

The issue really comes in to play with corporate newsletters some of us have to maintain them and prefer CSS standards something we use to have in previous editions

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: I am at a loss
by stestagg on Wed 14th Feb 2007 23:43 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: I am at a loss"
stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

I know what you mean, It's just that I prefer plain ASCII (or UTF-8) myself.

Of course, a few bordered boxes, unobtrusive images, and bold bits don't really hurt. But then that's all that you should need.

Reply Score: 3

what should i think of it...
by smashIt on Wed 14th Feb 2007 22:41 UTC
smashIt
Member since:
2005-07-06

i somehow understand both sides.

ibm bet on odf, so they don't want any competition to it. and then comes ms and opens their office-format (and don't forget pdf which will soon be ISOed)

and i understand ms. as things are developing now in the public sector, it's a "you support odf, or you lose". where is the choice here?

we are in the process of falling from one extreme into another. and i don't like either

Edited 2007-02-14 22:42

Reply Score: 2

RE: what should i think of it...
by twenex on Wed 14th Feb 2007 22:56 UTC in reply to "what should i think of it..."
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

and i understand ms. as things are developing now in the public sector, it's a "you support odf, or you lose". where is the choice here?

The choice comes from being able to use any one of several ODF-compatible apps/suites, which are not locked in.

If MS wanted people to have a choice of formats they should have opened - really opened - .doc or OOXML.

I too, understand MS's reluctance - at 90% of the market any change almost inevitably means your share decreases. However, for one thing they brought it on themselves; and for another, as with the recent Apple fiasco, MS accusing anyone else of hypocrisy is just funny.

Reply Score: 4

RE: what should i think of it...
by stestagg on Wed 14th Feb 2007 22:58 UTC in reply to "what should i think of it..."
stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

1. When you're talking about Industry STANDARDS, choice is a bad thing. For example: metric vs. Imperial (mars orbiter crash). the concept behind a standard is that it defines a single, set way of doing things that everyone knows.

2. PDF/A is already an ISO standard. And seeing as the current format war frontline is the Government document archive formats (The actual users are just really colateral here), a special Archive (that's what the A means) PDF standard is relevant here.

3. The real choice comes in making sure that ANY related software project can have the ability to talk in these formats. If that means coding huge modules just to emulate MS Word 95 quirks, then a lot of programmers giving their free time to develop open software will probably throw in the towel.

Reply Score: 3

"you support odf, or you lose"
by gustl on Thu 15th Feb 2007 13:37 UTC in reply to "what should i think of it..."
gustl Member since:
2006-01-19

That is exactly the point.

Microsoft can CHOOSE if they want to fully support ODF or not.
No choice is required by anybody else.

If you look at freedom and choice you have to look at: Choice for whom? Choice between what?

MS wants everybody to believe that having 2 standards instead of one would be a good thing because then everybody could choose which standard to support. But in reality no office software user WANTS to choose a file format, an office user wants to SAVE A DOCUMENT. The less choices he has, the better for him. If that user knows that everybody else on the planet will be able to read his document, then no choice is needed.

Of course such a planetary format would have to have certain aspects:

- Vendor neutrality
- Extensibility
- Future-proofness
- Ease of implementation
- Fully supportable by everybody

All of these aspects ODF provides and MS OXML lacks. So the choice as to which format should be chosen as the sole office format is clear.

Having two standards (metric and US) already costed the NASA several gagging bagfuls of money, because an interplanetary probe crashed on landing (distance meters where measured and then interpreted as foot). Obviously one common and sane standard like metric units would have not led to these difficulties.

Reply Score: 3

IBM doesn't want to compete on the merits
by MollyC on Wed 14th Feb 2007 23:21 UTC
MollyC
Member since:
2006-07-04

Wow, I didn't know there were so many IBM shills and astroturfers here. How much is IBM paying you guys? ;) (Before modding me down, know that I'm just jokingly turning the "MS astroturfing" charge back at you. ;) )

Consider this:
Microsoft was one of the members of the ISO committee that ratified ODF, and Microsoft raised NO objections to ODF becoming an ISO standard.

IBM was one of the members of OOXML's ECMA standardization committee (along with Microsoft competitors such as Apple) and was the ONLY no vote (IBM lost 20 to 1).

IBM is also lobbying governments to mandate *exclusive* use of ODF, while Microsoft is not mandating *exclusive* use of any particular format.

I know you guys hate Microsoft, but that's no reason to carry IBM's water on this one. IBM is the one that is advocating restriction of choice on this matter. The other issues you've brought up (choice in OSes and whatnot) are irrelevant.

Let users, governments, corps, etc, use whichever standard they choose based on the merits and based on the criteria particular to their specific situations. In other words, let the market decide. IBM would have OOXML killed off *before* the market gets a chance to decide anything.

Microsoft isn't afraid of ODF and OOXML both being standards. IBM, on the other hand, seems to be afraid of competing with OOXML in the open market of ideas.

Reply Score: 3

Luis Member since:
2006-04-28

Sorry, but I think you didn't get the point.

Nobody's saying that IBM is doing right. IBM is irrelevant here (at least for me and many others).

What amazes most of us is that *Microsoft* is now childishly complaining about *others* (IBM in this case) not wanting to have healthy competition and open standards so that users (governments, corps., etc...) can have a choice.

Have you ever heard about the .doc format??? Do you know how many millions of copies they have sold just because users were forced to buy it to be fully compatible with this "de facto" standard? Do you know that the format had to be reversed engineered to be able to read it in other programs (OOo) because it was a closed format and MS didn't open it up?

Now users (governments, etc...) have finally turned back on MS and it's .doc format, and now MS complains about *others* not respecting open standards and not allowing competition and freedom for users.

Come on !

Reply Score: 5

PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

Um, reversing formats has been the norm since word processing applications were around. How do you think Microsoft implemented WP support, or other formats which existed before Word? They sure as heck didn't whine about it or buy the specs from their competitors. They reverse-engineered them.

I'm not sure what the internal format of the DOC format actually is like, but I'd bet that it's an OLE structured-storage document with nodes representing Word's internal memory layout of the document, that is based on piece-tables of text with compatible formatting. It's probably not pretty, and it's likely not easy to render it outside of its native home, but whose fault is that and why should it have been Microsoft's responsibility to release a file format that works with applications other than its own??

I really don't understand why it's a crime to own a 'de facto' standard on office documents. And it is certainly not a crime to have a suite with more features than your competitors. Sure, it's hard to implement a fully-compatible system that'll open Word documents, but why should Microsoft do their competitors' work for them??

Reply Score: 1

sboland Member since:
2007-01-29

A few comments on owning a standard and competition.

Sadly, the world of software has suffered from the implementation of laws and judicial precedent that precludes competition.

Reverse Engineering a format is now quasi-legal or illegal in the USA due to the DMCA. Though this law was supposed to punish pirates of home movies, instead it is used to scare away competition and preserve software hegemony. Printer makers use it to prevent compatible ink cartridges. Autocad uses it to 'tag' files generated by the competition. EULA's in general flatly prohibit it. Microsoft uses it to cast a pall on anyone daring to attempt interoperation. If you lack expensive lawyers, reverse engineering is now dangerous to contemplate.

One critical part of the Microsoft OOXML format was the promise not to sue, a promise many examiners suspect is hollow. The wording has been used that sharply limits what implementations can run afoul patent or DMCA restrictions in the final result. Some believe the resulting language protects a set of actions that is a Null set, or nothing at all. Though this point was raised with MS last year, no changes in the licensing was made. MS _wants_ people to fear implementing their standard.

It is not a crime to create a 'de facto' standard normally, but a monopoly has to play by a different set of rules. A monopoly is recognized to have so much influence that it is illegal for them to prevent competition. Some people think these anti-trust laws are a joke, but they serve as a warning to companies. Just because you can force users to use your product, doesn't mean you should.

The DOC format and to a lesser extent OOXML explicitly use bindings and data structures unique to the intel-based windows OS. (A fact that makes a Mac version of MS Office much much much harder to create. A recent article I read showed how the mac must intercept OLE calls embedded in the document to translate them on the fly.) This binding to another product to accelerate sales elsewhere was judged illegal in court, against MS, previously. It may not be a crime to have an office suite with more features, but for MS at least, it is certainly doubtful they should prevent others from implementing the same.

After losing the one large court case, MS has been very careful never to lose another one. They have settled dozens of anti-trust lawsuits costing millions rather than change the behavior leading to that consequence originally. Paying off the victim, repeatedly, is no excuse for creating those victims in the first place.

This is not a company I want to create and maintain an international standard. Standards are supposed to exist to even the playing field, not give a single entity overwhelming advantages.

Reply Score: 4

PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

The Mac Office team ported parts of OLE to the mac. They probably just translated endianness and then call the ported OLE APIs. Once again, though, the old .doc format was not meant to be openned outside of office and there's no reason to suspect that was its purpose.

Office has not yet been judged a monopoly product. And I think anti-trust laws are interesting, but I don't think they're doing great things to either Microsoft or to the industry as a whole. I don't think bringing the monopoly argument into this has much relevance because having a dominant product doesn't make a difference in an argument about whether or not its file format can be standardized.

Now, it is important that anyone can freely implement any or all of the standard. Some behaviors are hard or impossible to implement (the doXLikeSomeAncientProductFromTheStoneAge tags), but these artifacts should not be produced in new documents. Seeing these tags slowly fade as new documents are produced is far better than making a complete break with the past and not having 100% fidelity between Office 97-2003 and Office 2007. You don't have access to those old documents in their native format anyway, so it's not like this is a step backwards (and you can still get the text out, which is the most important part for archival purposes).

The legal arguments that Microsoft wants it to be impossible to implement legally are being made by people who want to case some Fear and Uncertainty on the whole issue. It is part of a normal standardizing process for firms to give up their right to assert IP on the contents of the standard. Rambus tried to do otherwise and were stopped by the judicial system. Microsoft has not even indicated that it plans to do this. Remember, Microsoft runs on coders and technologists, not just businessmen and marketers. If they ever did anything unequivocally evil against an open source project (and I'm not talking about negative marketing... I'm talking about suing people who are developing the software), they'd have some mass internal revolts. Microsoft has never openly sued anyone for reverse-engineering their protocols or software. The only patent/copyright lawsuit I've heard about was the one about their USB autodetection standard that simply arose out of legitimate licensees complaints about a competitor illegally using the technology without a license. MS doesn't whine: they just bulldoze you out of the marketplace by investing more than you can and selling an equal or better product for cheaper (at least for the stuff I use in the American market, they don't raise prices for the same class of products once they win, so it's not like they dump on the market and then reap additional profits when the competition is gone... it's just volume for them).

What does it mean when you have to insinuate your products into government offices through a political standardization process, rather than on the price and performance of the products. OOo is free! StarOffice probably isn't too expensive per seat. They can open Word documents pretty decently already (and if the docs are complicated, the government probably shouldn't be using them anyway). It's pretty obvious that this is just a power-play by IBM to get the government to help it win without the investment required to actually compete in the marketplace. Consider how much it costs to create a product as big and complex as office. Who else has spent the time, money, and resources to compete?? If the answer is no one, then why should you expect a different result from what you're seeing now?

Reply Score: 1

gustl Member since:
2006-01-19

Reverse engineering should simply not be necessary!

In the old days of standalone applications and paper printouts, nobody really cared about the interoperability of an office format. Especially not the users.
In that days office software was a nice replacement for typewriters.

But the world has changed, everybody interacts with everybody else, the internet showed us how this can be accomplished: ONE globally accepted standard for every website and browser. Microsoft still does not play well in that field, but became better than some years ago. But webmasters still are only able to use a very limited set of the available features of the W3C standards, simply because MS refuses to implement them in their browser.

The next step of interoperability is office formats. MS could have used ODF for every feature that can be represented in ODF, and they could have created their own namespace inside the ODF format for the few remaining features which are not represented in ODF. But instead they chose to try the balkanisation of the office format space by creating their own XML format which is closely tied to their MS Windows operating system like they tried with their browsers. We all are vividly reminded of the browser wars which led to high costs for website maintainance.

That is the reason why we all are strictly opposed to MS in that matter. IBM just happens to pull the wagon in the same direction as we are. We are not with IBM, IBM is with us in this case.

Reply Score: 4

sboland Member since:
2007-01-29

IBM Shill and Astroturfer? I don't think so.

Point 1&2: IBM was the only ECMA committee member voting against the initial ratification. But MS didn't vote against ODF.
Counter: MS had months to include any product-specific requirements to save Office documents in ODF, but never bothered. On the other hand, most ECMA members don't sell software at all (Apple, IBM, and MS being obvious exceptions). Why would GE bother to read through the document, much less object? ECMA is in place solely to push through standards as quickly and efficiently as possible, not to critique or fix them. Apple has no dog in this hunt, IBM does.

Point 3: IBM lobbied governments for exclusive use of ODF while MS is not mandating any exclusive format.
Counter: IBM is not the sole organization requesting sanity in archiving government documents and files. This is requested internally and externally on a cyclic basis, usually when MS finally turns out a new product and forces upgrades throughout the industry due to incompatibilities. Underdogs always want a standard they can build to. As pointed out elsewhere, OOXML is a standard only Microsoft has the resources to build to because they own it in totality.

Point 4: "You guys hate Microsoft"
Counter: I work with their products constantly, far more often than any other vendor's wares. 'Hate' isn't part of the equation. More like 'Frustration', 'Experience', and 'History'. Every MS standard for the past 20 years has existed to break other guys products. The Win32 API (redone repeatedly until finally IBM quit trying to replicate it), J# (Nobody else felt a need to make an incompatible Java), and now OOXML... Why would we expect different behavior now?

Point 5: "IBM is advocating restriction of choice"
Counter: That is an extremely loaded statement. ANY standard restricts choice. Yes, I choose international measures instead of creating a measuring system based on the length of my femur. We choose to use a standard for predictability and re-use. OOXML lacks either attribute. It bases behavior on undocumented programs and is not currently implemented by any program in wide use.

Point 6: "Let users...etc use whichever standard they choose based on the merits"
Counter: What is advocated here is not choice based on merits, but choice based on application usability. Unfortunately, with out an interoperable standard all organizations are locked into a single vendor, the 'most common' one. Gee.. Who might that be?

Point 7: "Microsoft isn't afraid" "IBM .. afraid of competing"
Counter: Microsoft _is_ afraid. They have successfully avoided having to interoperate with other vendors for years. They have such dominance that other vendors have difficulty even attaining a foothold. If IBM had no wish to compete, by the logic here, they should create the 'IBM Office' standard and push for that! Why bother being compatible with a dozen other vendor's products through the limited standard like ODF? IBM is not the only person pushing for a better choice, I want one too.

A final note: I am not paid by IBM in any way shape or form for the work I do. I base my livelihood on the use of MS products, using them every day.

Reply Score: 5

unoengborg Member since:
2005-07-06

IBM is also lobbying governments to mandate *exclusive* use of ODF, while Microsoft is not mandating *exclusive* use of any particular format.

Sorry, but the Microsoft XML it is only implemented in one product that have been available in the market for only a few weeks. as such that product currently have a very low market share. It also have very specific demands of operating environment in the form of quite new OS and hardware. It has not yet become an ISO standard (and 20 out of 66 principal standards bodies have already filed contradictions). When/if it becomes a standard it is highly unlikely that this standard will be fully implemented by multiple vendors due to the fact that the standard refers to the behavior of closed not openly documented Microsoft products.

Compare that to ODF that have been around for a while, and even reached ISO standard status. It is allready implemented by multiple vendors, there are even one open source implementation (important for long term document recoverability).

If you had a consulting company and had to recommend a product to your customers, would you recommend the product that already was an ISO standard, that had the least risk of vendor lock in, that already had been widely tested or something nonstandard completely new?
Naturally, just like IBM, you would have recommended the existing standard.

From your customers point of view this is also the answer that seams to make most sense. It's business 101 to if possible avoid having only one supplier for mission critical equipment.

Besides, Microsoft was part of OASIS back when ODF was developed. If they felt that ODF needed improvments to support some feature in MS-Office they could have worked with the ODF people to have it included. they didn't. Instead they remained silent and created their own noninteroperable file format. Not exactly a sign of good faith.

Reply Score: 5

anda_skoa Member since:
2005-07-07

Microsoft was one of the members of the ISO committee that ratified ODF, and Microsoft raised NO objections to ODF becoming an ISO standard.

Do you have any resources on that?

I always thought only national standards bodies were voting members at ISO, or is Microsoft and ANSI already the same?

Reply Score: 2